The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square’s “Hope” world tour will make its next stop in the Philippines. Eight months removed from their 2023 trip to Mexico, the choir will perform in the Philippines from Feb. 20 to Feb. 29, 2024.
The choir has never performed in the Philippines, according to a release Friday, Oct. 13, on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
While in the island nation, the choir will participate in concerts with guest artists from the Philippines, as was also done in Mexico. Their music is expected to include numbers that showcase the music of the country.
During the 2023 tour in Mexico, local radio host Mariano Osorio and guest artist singers Adassa, who voiced Dolores in Disney’s “Encanto,” and Alex Melecio and shared messages and songs of hope during the performances in the nearly 10,000-seat National Cathedral in Mexico City. Both Adassa and Melecio sang and spoke in Spanish and the choir also sang several songs in Spanish, including an encore of “Cielito Lindo,” to which many in the audience sang along.
“Music is a universal language and can transcend cultural and language boundaries,” said Mack Wilberg, the choir’s music director. “We hope our musical message of hope will be felt in the hearts of the Filipino people.”
Both choirs and instrumental musical performances have a long history among the people of the nearly 2,000 inhabited islands of the Philippines. The islands’ indigenous cultures had their own musical styles, and many of those were influenced by Asian and European explorers in the 15th to 18th centuries.
The Church has more than 800,000 members in nearly 1,300 congregations in the country. Those members comprise one of the largest audiences of the choir’s “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast each week, according to the release.
The president of the choir, Michael O. Leavitt, said, “We are pleased to join with the people of the Philippines. We are confident the choir’s concerts will provide a sense of hope by reflecting God’s love for all His children.”
Today’s announcement indicated that information on locations and tickets for the choir’s free concerts will be made available at a later date.
During the choir and orchestra’s 2022 Christmas concert, “Disney Legend” Lea Salonga, who is from the Philippines, was one of the guest artists. One of the songs she sang was Wilberg’s arrangement of “Payapang Daigdid” — a Filipino song that translates to “Peaceful World” and can be considered a counterpart to “Silent Night.” It’s the first time Wilberg had arranged a Filipino song.
After Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was attacked during World War II, so was Manila in the Philippines. It was several years later, in 1946, when Felipe Padilla de Leon climbed some the ruins and was inspired by what he saw to write “Payapang Daigdid.”
“It has brought hope and peace to the Filipino people ever since,” Salonga said, wishing those in the audience hope and peace.
Representation in the choir
Two Filipinos who already have a close relationship with the choir in a unique way are Ronald Baa and Sundae Mae Indino. Both participated as international members of the choir in the April 2023 general conference. Indino returned as a guest participant in the choir for the October 2023 general conference as well.
In April, Baa said in a Church News podcast that his participation in the choir rekindled the desire of some friends to participate in general conference.
“When they found out that I’ll be singing with the Tabernacle Choir, they are excited and they said that, ‘I think it’s about time to watch the general conference,’” he said. “… So they’re very excited. I also have friends who are not members of the Church who are also excited to watch the April general conference. So this program would really make a great impact.”
The choir’s visit to the Philippines will likely expose many individuals who are unfamiliar with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to its teachings, just like it will its music.
In the same podcast, Indino said, “The Church is really a church for everyone. And the gospel is for everyone, just like what Jesus Christ wants.”
Future of the choir’s multinational tour
The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square anticipate continuing this multiyear tour over the next four years with plans to travel to at least four other countries in that time. In the past, the choir has engaged in multiweek trips every other year. But this tour will allow the choir to visit for shorter amounts of time in different parts of the world.